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Mack Williams: Electric Blue

Mack Williams

The other night, I drove by Christmas yard decorations all decked in red and green bulbs, like the colors of Dickens’ “Ghost of Christmas Present.”
Another yard had light-bulb-form deer, lit in clear,  white light, mimicking the bright, clear beacon radiating from the top of the head of Dickens’ “Ghost of Christmas Past,” (and kind of paying a bit of homage to the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” who wasn’t very nice to Nikola Tesla).
Now, in this essay of light, you’re probably expecting me to agree with Dickens, implying that the “Ghost of Christmas yet to Come” is not unlike an unlit black cloak, like the spaces between the stars.
But to me, it isn’t! It’s like the singular, futuristic, fantastic, seemingly-frozen-looking color of one of my neighbor’s rooftop string of lights consisting solely of “electric blue” Christmas bulbs, like some “Colour Out of Space,” (although a much more benevolent “colour” than that of which H. P. Lovecraft wrote).
I seemed drawn to this simple strand of lights atop that very simple house in my neighborhood that night (like the proverbial moth). And I bet that color would “pull you in” too, more so than any of the usual varieties of Seasonal green, red, silver, or gold!
It reminded somewhat of the color of thousands-of-years-old blue glacial ice collapsing into a Norwegian fjord sometimes featured on the evening news.
I remembered the bulbs in my childhood Christmas tree, the scratches on their painted glass surfaces revealing them to all be hot white underneath (though the blue ones just seemed a little cooler).

Then, I remembered a glass-less blue, burningly “hot blue” pilot light of my childhood kitchen’s gas stove back on the Old Concord Road.

I then recalled the old sci-fi Christmas cartoon (not seen in a while) “Cosmic Christmas” (1977). The particular quality of my neighbor’s blue bulbs made me think of distant, other-worldly galaxies where super-charged jets of cosmic plasma appear to jet out from their poles (these galaxies being so fortunate as to have their pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope).
And, on a silly note, in addition to “electric blue,” there’s also “electric slide!”
I remembered from my astronomy that the brightest stars are blue-white, and thought of the one over Bethlehem. There was no Biblical mention of its being blue-white; but it’s sometimes a little hard to differentiate star color.
The blue string of simple lights now had a deeper meaning than just glacial ice and jets of interstellar particles. It now represented shepherds on a cold, nighttime hillside in a land hard pressed to hold the heat cast by its daytime “yellow star.”
It represented the common-place work of “blue collar” men with shepherd’s crooks, just doing their job when something decidedly outside the realm of their “workplace” occurred that night!
It being late, and being tired, I then slipped across sleep’s threshold, as my partly-open window blinds displayed my neighbor’s “electric blue” Christmas “night lights,” strung between earth and sky.

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